The Same As It Was
For the first time since October the Top 3 singles on the Official UK Singles chart remain locked firmly in place for the fourth week in a row. People know what they like and like what they know, and that includes Miley Cyrus who has headed up that table now for an entire month. Sales of Flowers have inevitably dipped from their high point of the past couple of weeks but she still commands a huge lead over the competition, posting just over 81,000 chart sales (a dip of over 23% on last week's numbers). Escapism meanwhile does another week of over 50,000 chart sales - more than enough in most weeks to ensure it would have still been No.1 all this time.
Inspect Her Clue, So
"I saw that [she] followed me on Instagram … and popped in her DMs" was Pinkpantheress' explanation of the origin of the new remix of Boys A Liar which features new vocals from American rapper Ice Spice. The release of the new version of the track (branded the "Pt 2" version) neatly propels the single beyond the No.38 it scaled a fortnight ago to a quite extraordinary new peak of No.8. That's more than enough to make it far and away the biggest hit single the 21-year-old cult British star has ever put her name to, in pure chart terms second only to the uncredited use of her sampled vocals by Central Cee on Obsessed With You which itself made No.4.
The arrival of a long-overdue proper mainstream smash hit, as opposed to her low level chart appearances of the past, may not necessarily be to Pinkpantheress' comfort. Having long eschewed anything resembling a public image, it was not until last year that she even allowed pictures of her to be circulated. Despite the fact that her real name (Vicky Walker) is a fairly open secret journalists and interviewers are discouraged from referencing it and have even been known to be leaned upon heavily by label PRs when they accidentally let it slip. But there comes a point when mystery can no longer be sustained, and you suspect having a full blown Top 10 hit single is genuinely that moment. Boys A Liar Pt2 is Pinkpantheress' coming out party. And that's actually a joy to behold.
Also new to the Top 10 this week, 10:35 from Tiesto & Tate McRae, completing an epic chart journey which began back in November when it first reached the Top 40, and continued as it dipped under the radar at Christmas before surging back in the new year. After spending the first five weeks of 2023 sculling around the Top 20 the single finally bursts forward to become this week's No.10, only the fifth credited Top 10 hit of Tiesto's two-decade-long career, the second for Tate McRae following You Broke Me First in 2020.
We are long overdue a Top 10 clearout which is perhaps good news for the many hits now banging firmly on the door. Coi Leray's Players seems in pole position, climbing to No.12 this week, Red Flags by Mimi Webb rises to No.15 while Libianca's People is on the yo-yo and shoots back to No.17 to eclipse to the No.18 peak it scaled a fortnight ago.
Spirit Of Scooter
Presenting now the most extraordinary WTF moment of the week. What, you may ask, is George Ezra's summertime hit from 2022 Green Green Grass suddenly doing back in the Top 20, rocketing to No.19 after an ACR reset? Well, you might regard it as being all down to the current fad, beloved of TikTok creators, for sped-up versions of pop hits. Because if you try hard enough anything sounds good when recast as a performance by Alvin and The Chipmunks. Sped-up mixes of songs are nothing new, Saint Jhn spent weeks at the top of the charts in the spring of 2020 with a version of Roses played in double time, but George Ezra this week arguably becomes the first mainstream act to fully embrace the craze.
So yes, Green Green Grass is back in the Top 20 following the official release this week of a sped-up version, one which the kids predictably enough have gone nuts for. The effect is, frankly, astonishing as it turns the already whimsical ballad into the Happy Hardcore track of your nightmares. All it needs is a guest vocal from HP Baxxter and the effect would be complete You'd like to think this is the apex rather than the nadir of a trend. It all has strange echoes of the brief trend for Candlelight versions of pop hits that raged fully 20 years ago.
Making The Grade Finally
We are so used to weeks with precious few new entries it is always quite the novelty when there are lots of "new" arrivals to contend with, the bottom half of the Top 40 this week playing host to a large number of newer hits which have made the climb from the lower reaches (the actual highest new entry of the week is Rita Ora's If You Only Love Me at a lowly No.57).
So let's start instead at No.27 and Ceilings by Lizzy McAlpine, the first chart single from the 23 year old from Philadelphia who first came to attention - naturally - thanks to her online uploads. It's a beautiful, gentle folk-pop track. And yes, of course, people have made sped-up versions of it already. Why do you ask?
The charts are not playing ball with Pink's release plans, but her new single Trustfall only had to wait seven days to become a Top 40 hit, climbing to No.28. This just one week after its predecessor Never Gonna Not Dance Again made the Top 40 for the first time, although it slips back a little this week and is now at No.43.
There's a seemingly random re-awakening of Beyonce's Cuff It which this week steams back into contention at No.30, several months after it first peaked at No.5. Put this down to a combination of her Grammy's performance, tickets for her first concert dates in years going on sale, but most probably because of the release of several new remixes including a compelling acoustic version. Unlike many other reawakened hits, Cuff It hasn't been ACR reset. It was actually consumed enough to in theory be on the cusp of returning to the Top 10.
He reached No.22 last year with his debut Romantic Homicide and D4VD is back once more this week with a second hit Here With Me which finally creeps into the Top 40 at the bottom run after a six week climb. "I don't care how long it takes" he croons. Well, here's hoping it isn't too much longer before he manages what you might call a full crossover commercial hit. And hopefully not with a sped-up version either.
Don't Be Stupid
There was an intriguing two-way battle at the top of the albums chart this week, resolved in perhaps not quite the way some might have hoped. All eyes were on RAYE, hoping to follow up her proudly independently released No.1 single with a similarly chart-topping album as My 21st Century Blues, the album she had to quit her label for the right to release, finally made it to the shops. Despite her repeated social media pleas for people to help her realise her dream she was ultimately blown out of the water by a veteran female star. Shania Twain was literally everywhere you looked this week, spending a surprising amount of time doing British PR for her new album Queen Of Me. Whatever the motivation behind it, it worked a treat. Her reward is her third UK No.1 album, following in the footsteps of Come On Over in 1998 and Now in 2017. Twain ended the week with 18,000 sales to her name, just under 2,500 more than her British rival. And as you can see she is THRILLED about it.